Thumbs down for Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara. Literature.
This book’s main endearing quality is that it’s short. Also that it makes no emotional impact, which is a good thing, because some unpleasant things happen in it (murder, tongue piercings, explicit BDSM). It was not actually so bad that I wanted to put it down, but other than the faint interest of the fact that things do not go as they would in a “Western” novel, it’s completely forgettable in every way.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey. Travel.
I want to visit Japan, but that is not in the cards, so I am traveling vicariously instead. This is a small, charming little book about the author’s trip to Japan with his son, as they search to understand even of a fragment of the Japanese spirit that they think they discern in manga and anime.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for 1984 by George Orwell. Science fiction.
I know, you’re shocked I haven’t read this already. Well, I like to shock you now and then. I did in fact read about a third of this back as a teenager when I was “supposed” to read it, but that was on a computer screen and my eyes could only take me so far.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook: For the Farmgirl in All of Us by MaryJane Butters. Lifestyle.
Recipes, and stories, and make-it-yourself instructions. Complete charm and sumptuous photos of small farm life. MaryJane Butters is a funny gal: in a story I think is representative of her many sides, she longs for Jello (unabashed nostalgia), but is not happy with the way commercial gelatin is produced (environmental consciousness), so she researches and rigorously tests other forms of gelatin (do-it-yourself science) eventually hitting upon one that meets her qualifications – but as it’s unavailable commercially she decides to sell it herself (entrepreneurial mentality).… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Don’t Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli. Suspense.
I was delighted to find another one of these delightful, nasty little jewels. Think Robert B. Parker but British, with a lot more booze and women and cowardice. Bonfiglioli nevers sets a step wrong. These books deserve much better than the anonymity they have fallen into.
“Somewhere in the trash he reads Martland has read that heavy men walk with surprisingly lightness and grace; as a result he trips about like a portly elf hoping to be picked up by a leprechaun.
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience & What Makes Us Human by Matt Ridley. Science.
The beginning of this book fascinated me. Unfortunately, Ridley makes his point too well, too early (that the realization of genes is influenced by environment, and that “nature” is not mutually exclusive from “nurture”) and by the second half I’d already felt I’d gotten what I was going to get out of it.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman. Children’s nonfiction.
The true story of a fireboat, and its heroic return from retirement. This book made me cry.
“The piers were the places where ships and trains brought all manner of merchandise to be sold in the city. Like wood and cotton and bananas and bubble gum and EVERYTHING.”… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Young adult.
I was (quite unfairly) wary of a repeat of my experience with Robinson Crusoe – one of the most agonizingly boring books I’ve ever dragged my way through – but this came highly recommended by my coworker. He was not wrong; it is indeed a delight. Yo-ho-ho!
“‘Marooned three years agone,’ he continued, ‘and lived on goats since then, and berries, and oysters.
… >> Read more